Last month, Australian metal AM company Titomic Limited announced a partnership with Gilmour Space Technologies, a Queensland-based aerospace company, to develop high-performance rocket parts. Last week at Formnext, Titomic signalled this collaboration in a big way with the presentation of a 5.5 meter 3D printed titanium rocket.
The rocket is a scaled down version of Gilmour Space’s ERIS-S rocket (which measures 27 meters in length) and is reportedly the world’s largest additively manufactured titanium part. The impressive structure was printed at Titomic’s Melbourne production bureau using the company’s Titomic Kinetic Fusion process (and specifically the TKF 9000).
With a build volume of 40.5 cubic meters (9 x 3 x 1.5 m) and a build speed of 20 kg per hour, the TKF 9000 is one of—if not the—largest and fastest metal additive manufacturing system on the market. The 5.5 meter rocket was printed in 27.6 hours, while a full-scale version of the Gilmour Space rocket could be manufactured in 162 hours.
Obviously, the large-scale rocket component is an impressive demonstration of what Titomic’s TKF process is capable of, especially within the aerospace industry. In the segment, titanium is a desirable material because of its high strength and relatively low weight. Traditionally, however, it has been challenging to manufacture, because it is difficult to machine and a costly to work with.
The patented TKF process offers an efficient solution to working with titanium, making it possible for aerospace companies to choose titanium instead of the more common stainless steel 301, which is much heavier and far less strong. Looking specifically at rocket components, the TKF process can help to reduce the weight of rockets substantially, which allows for an increased payload capacity.
Jeff Lang, Titomic Managing Director, said: “Previously, titanium was more than twice the price of stainless steel but with the development of new supply chain of titanium powder and Australia’s significant mineral sand resources of about 280M tonnes of titanium, Titomic is at the forefront of advancing technology for future sustainability of the Earth’s resources and reducing carbon emissions for global manufacturing.’’